The 7 Summits – an Overview

Alan on Kosciuszko's Summit

In 2011, I summited seven of the eight seven summits. Confused? Read on!

This post is a quick overview of the 7 Summits. My climbs were aimed to send a message of hope, need and urgency from the 7 Continents on behalf of everyone impacted by Alzheimer’s Disease. I made all the climbs in just 322 days. You can read more about each mountain, my personal experience and frequently asked questions by click on the links

For an excellent book covering all the climbs, check out mountain guide Mike Hamill’s Climbing the Seven Summits.

The 8 “7 Summits”

The 7 Summits represent the highest point on each of the seven continents. It has become a goal for climbers around the world and around 416 people have met the goal as of 2016. See the list at this link. However, as in most things in mountaineering there is controversy.

From a geology viewpoint, there are only 6 continents on the Earth: Africa, Antarctica, Australia, Eurasia, South America and North America. Europe is considered a peninsula of the Eurasia continental platform and is not a true physical continent. However, from a political perspective, Europe is considered a continent thus Elbrus (18,513’/5642m), located on the border with Asia in southern Russia represents Europe and not Mont Blanc (15,771’/4807m) which lies in the Alps on the border of France and Italy.

Then there is the competition between Australia’s Kosciuszko (7,310’/2228m) and New Guinea’s Carstensz Pyramid, aka Puncak Jaya (16,024’/4884m) both located on the Oceania continent – which is not really a continent but a region of the south west Pacific that includes Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and many other islands.

Just top make your head spin a bit more, Mawson Peak at 9,005’/2,745m on the Heard Island and McDonald Islands, is part of Australia and higher than Kosciuszko but not higher than Carstensz Pyramid.

Dick Bass the first 7 Summiter, choose Australia as one of the 7 continents and Kosciuszko as it’s mainland high point. However Canadian Pat Morrow, who was competing with Bass to finish the 7, challenged Bass’s summit of Australia’s Mt. Kosciuszko as the highest peak in Oceania saying that Carstensz Pyramid on Irian Jaya (Papua) in Indonesia’s New Guinea was the true highpoint for the Australasian continental mass. Italian Reinhold Messner jumped in and agreed with Morrow. Today Carstensz is considered one of the seven but some 7 Summiteers try to bag the lower Kosciuszko to meet both the Bass and the Messner lists. Of the 416 7 Summiters, 148 have summited both Carstensz and Kosciuszko.

click to enlargeSo I guess if you want to cover all angles here is the list:

  1. Everest, Nepal – 29,035’/8850m
  2. Aconcagua, Argentina – 22,902’/6960m
  3. Denali, Alaska – 20,320’/6194m
  4. Kilimanjaro, Africa – 19,340’/5896m
  5. Elbrus, Russia – 18,513’/5642m
  6. Vinson, Antarctica – 16,067’/4897m
  7. Carstensz Pyramid, New Guinea – 16,023’/4884m
  8. Mt. Blanc, France/Italy – 15,771’/4807m
  9. Mt. Kosciuszko, Australia – 7,310’/2228m

The 7 Summit idea was hatched and first accomplished by American Dick Bass. He started with six summits in 1983: Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Denali, Vinson and Kosciuszko. Then with guide, David Breashears, he became the oldest person, at 55, at the time to summit Everest in 1985. Canadian Patrick Morrow became the first to summit all seven with Carstensz in addition to Kosciuszko ending in 1986. Messner summited all the peaks without supplemental oxygen, a first, also completing the task in 1986.

The 2nd 7 Summits

Finally, since none of the seven are extreme technical mountaineering climbs, with the altitude challenges of Everest notwithstanding, some pundits suggest the second highest mountains on the continents is a better challenge for real mountaineers. I would agree that that list would be significantly more difficult if only for the fact that it includes K2 instead of Everest!

click to enlargeThat list includes:

  1. K2 (Pakastan-28,251’/8611m)
  2. Ojas del Salado (Argentina-22,608’/6983m)
  3. Logan (Canada-19,551’/5959m)
  4. Dykh-Tau (Russia-17,077’/5205m)
  5. Kenya (Africa-17,057’/5199m)
  6. Tyree (Antarctica-15,919’/4852m)
  7. Puncak Trikora (New Guinea-15,580’/4730m)
  8. Townsend (Australia-7,247’/2209m)


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Here are the 7 Summits in height order and my experience.

Asia: Everest (29,035’/8850m)

Mt. EverestMt. Everest is on the border between Nepal and Tibet (China). It is in the Himalaya mountain range which stretches 1500 miles from Northeastern Pakistan to Bhutan. There are over thirty mountains higher than 25,000 feet and fourteen over 26,300 or 8000 meters. Of the fourteen 8,000 meter peaks, nine are located in the Himalayas making it clearly the top of the world.

Mt. Everest was first summited by Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary with a British expedition in 1953. They took the South Col route which is described on this page. At that time the route had only been attempted twice by Swiss teams in the spring and autumn of 1952.They reached 8500m well above the South Col. Of note, Norgay was with the Swiss thus giving him the experience he used on the British expedition. The Swiss return in 1956 to make the second summit of Everest.

Today, hundreds of climbers from around the world use the South Col route to try to stand on top of the world. It is considered slightly more dangerous than the North Ridge Route due primarily to the instability of the Khumbu Icefall. However some considered it slightly easier than the north due to the absence of the ladders and rock climbing on the steep steps of the North Ridge route.

The Grand Dame of all Everest statistics, Ms. Elizabeth Hawley reports on the Himalayan Database that there have been 7,646 summits of Everest through June 2016 on all routes by 4,469 different people. 1,015 people, mostly Sherpa, have summited multiple times totaling 3,861 times (included in the 7,646 total summits). The Nepal side is more popular with 4,863 summits compared to 2,783 summits from the Tibet side. 197 climbers summited without supplemental oxygen, about 2.5%. 14 climbers have traversed from one side to the other. About 60% of all expeditions put at least one member on the summit.

282 people (168 westerners and 114 Sherpas) have died on Everest from 1924 to June 2016. Of the deaths, 109 died attempting to summit without using supplemental oxygen. 70 climbers died on the descent from the summit. The Nepalese side has seen 4,863 summits with 176 deaths through June 2016 or 3.7%. The Tibet side has seen 2,783 summits with 106 deaths through June 2016. or 3.8%. Most bodies are still on the mountain but China has removed many bodies from sight. The top cause of death was from a fall, avalanche, exposure and altitude sickness. 640 people summited in spring 2016 from both sides and there were 5 Everest deaths.

From 1923 to 1999: 170 people died on Everest with 1,169 summits or 14.5%. But the deaths drastically declined from 2000 to 2015 with 5,832 summits and 112 deaths or 1.9%.However, two years skewed the deaths rates with 17 in 2014 and 14 in 2015. The reduction in deaths is primarily due to better gear, weather forecasting and more people climbing with commercial operations.

Annapurna remains the most deadly 8000 meter mountain with one death for every three summits (71:255) or 28% thru 2016.

see more Everest facts here

The second highest mountain in Asia is K2 in Pakistan at 28,251’/8611m and is about 800 miles northwest of Everest in the Karakorum range. It is considered significantly more difficult than Everest requiring technical rock climbing and extreme weather.

I summited Mt. Everest at 5:00 AM on May 21, 2011 via the South Col route with IMG Sherpa, Kami Sherpa. We stayed on top for about 10 minutes in cold and windy conditions. It was a humbling experience given the massive scale of Everest but it was the reaction from the Alzheimer’s community that brought tears to my eyes.

Alzheimer’s Dedication: Moms with Alzheimer’s

I attempted Everest four times and summited on my fourth time on May 21, 2011. You can read about my climbs on my Everest pages.

South America: Aconcagua (22,834’/6960m)

AconcaguaThe highest peak outside the Himalaya, it is located in Argentina near the border with Chile. It was first summited by Mathias Zurbriggen in 1897. It is the highest mountain in South America at 22,834′. Most climbers fly into Santiago (Chile) or Mendoza (Argentina) and take a bus to Puente del Inca for the normal route or to Penitentes for the Polish Glacier, Polish Traverse and Vacas routes. There are no central statistics but about 3,500 climbers make a summit attempt each year with an estimated 30% success rate.

The second highest mountain in South America is Ojas del Salado also in Argentina at 22,608’/6983m and is 370 miles north of Aconcagua in the Andes range.

I summited on January 29, 2011. Aconcagua is the highest peak outside of the Himalaya at 22,834′. While not a technical climb per se, it is known for harsh winds and extremely cold temperatures on summit day. We had a great team and 100% success rate.

Alzheimer’s Dedication: Caregivers

I have climbed Aconcagua three times, summiting each time. You can read about my climbs on my Aconcagua page.

North America: Denali (20,310 feet 6,190 meters 

DenaliDenali is the native American name for the mountain but it was changed to Mt. McKinley in honor of President McKinley and then officially changed back to Denali by the National Park Service in 1980 and by Congress in 2015. It is in central Alaska – 300 miles South of the Arctic Circle and 200 miles East of the Bearing Sea. Denali offers some the the largest vertical gain of any mountain on Earth.

With base camp at 7,200′ and the summit at 20,310′, this 13,110′ of gain over twelve miles is larger than Cho Oyu (8,407) or even Everest (10,535). The biggest threat on Denali is the weather. It is well known for socking you in for days with high winds and snow. An estimated 32,000 climbers have attempted Denali with about a 40% success rate. Almost 100 have died including 11 in 1992.

The second highest mountain in North America is Mt. Logan in Canada’s Yukon at 19,551’/5959m and is 385 miles southeast of Denali. Similar to Denali it is a huge massif but with eleven peaks. Logan is believed to have the largest base circumference of any mountain. The normal route is consider straightforward but weather is a huge problem for Logan like it is for Denali in addition to being so remote.

I reached 17,200′ at the High Camp on Denali in mid July 2011. We waited for 8 days there for lower winds that never came. I consider this a non-summit and not a failure similar to how Alzheimer’s researchers feel when a clinical trial does not result in their original objectives. Every effort results in lessons and I was able to forward the message of hope, need and urgency for an Alzheimer’s cure during my climb.

Alzheimer’s Dedication: Researchers

I have climbed on Denali three times with no summits. You can read about my climbs on my Denali page.

Africa: Kilimanjaro (19,340’/5896m)

KilimanjaroOne of the world’s highest volcanoes it was first summited in 1889 by Meyer and Purtscheller but locals probably summited it in earlier times. There are actually three peaks: Kibo, Shira and Mawenzi with Kibo being the summit. There are 5 main routes that meander from the jungle through five microclimates to join the three final ascent routes to Kibo. Both the Machame and Lemosho routes offer a more leisurely paced scenic climb. The Lemosho route is less crowded while the Machame route has a more difficult beginning but joins into the same route as the Lemosho. The Marangu climb is crowded since it follows a road part way.

It is considered a walk-up by many climbers but still represents a deadly threat when climbers go too fast or ignore difficult weather. The local park officials maintain strict rules thus requiring local guides to accompany each team. The climb takes anywhere from 4 to 7 days with 7 being the suggested time to allow for proper acclimatization. Huts are on some routes as well as tent camping. Porters carry most of the load so climbers usually just manage a small day pack with their personal gear.

We went on a quick 3 day safari after the climb and in many ways was better than the climb itself.

The second highest mountain in Africa is Mt. Kenya in Kenya at 17,057’/5199m and is 250 miles north of Kilimanjaro. The normal route to Peak Lenana is considered a scramble but routes to Batina Peak offer challenging rock climbing (5.7 range) to reach the summit.

I summited Kilimanjaro on September 19, 2011. We took the Machame route that started in the jungle and went through five microclimates to the summit.

Alzheimer’s Dedication: World Alzheimer’s Month

I summited Kilimanjaro from the Machame route on September 19, 2011. You can read about and see pictures from the climb here.

Europe: Elbrus (18,513’/5642m)

ElbrusMount Elbrus is an extinct volcano in the Caucasus Main Range, the European border with Asia in southern Russia. Mt. Elbrus has two main summits – the western summit at 18,513’/5642m and the eastern summit at 18,442’/5621m.The first ascent of the west peak was in 1829 by a Russian army team and the east in 1874 by an English team. Mont Blanc is sometimes consider the highest in Europe but Elbrus technically holds that honor.

The normal climbing season is May to September. The climb is quite short by 7 Summits standards taking less than a week at most. It can be climbed from the north or south with the north being significantly less crowded and more difficult. The standard south route on Elbrus is technically easy and includes a cable car up to the 12,500′ level. It is snow slope from there to the summit. Climber stay in ‘huts’ which are single room, rock walled building with tin roofs at 12,700′ and/or the Barrel Huts, 13,600′, which are, well, huge barrels. A snow-cat is reported to be available for climbers who want a ride even higher – up to 15,750. It is common to have over 100 climbers going for the summit in a single day in July. The north side has  a longer, more complicated approach and is considered more of a climbing experience than the south. As with most mountains that have a reputation for being easy, they are also deadly and Elbrus is no exception. About 25 climbers die each year due to ill-preparedness or the weather. It can be extremely cold and windy. However literally thousands of people have summited Elbrus included a Soviet team in 1956 of 400 climbers!

The second highest mountain in Europe, Dychtau in Russia at 17,077’/5205m and is 40 miles southeast of Elbrus. It considered a very dangerous and technical climb with the main peak accessible from a steep and narrow ridge from the adjacent saddle.

I summited Mount Elbrus from the less climbed North side on August 11, 2011. It was a fast climb summiting 5 days after arriving in Russia. Elbrus is an extinct volcano in the Caucasus Main Range with two main summits. I summited the West peak at 18,513’/5642m.

Alzheimer’s Dedication: Share with friends 7 points about Alzheimer’s

I summited Elbrus from the north side on August 11, 2011. You can read about and see pictures from the climb here.

Oceania: Carstensz Pyramid (16,023’/4884m)

Carstensz PyramidThe ‘newest’ of the 7 summits when Pat Morrow and Reinhold Messner challenged Dick Bass’s summit of Australia’s Mt. Kosciuszko as the highest peak in Oceania. Carstensz Pyramid on Irian Jaya (Papua) in Indonesia’s New Guinea is now consider one of the 7 but most 7 Summiteers try to bag the walk-up Kosciuszko as well.

The Dutch explorer Jan Carstensz first sighted the peak in 1623. It was first climbed by Austrian Heinrich Harrer and team in 1962. Carstensz is considered the most exotic of the 7 Summits surrounded by dense jungle and rumors of cannibals! Even though it is near the equator, snow sometimes graces the limestone slopes.

The climbing is consider the most technical of the 7 Summits requiring rock scrambling a short section of 5.8 rock climbing with fixed ropes and a Tyrolean traverse across a 80′ gap. This involves pulling yourself upside down across a suspended rope. But the real challenge is just getting there. Often the road is closed to climbers by the owners of the Freeport mine thus requiring a 5 day hike to reach to base of Carstensz. Instead many teams charter a helicopter. Obtaining permits and travel logistics can be quite difficult.

The second highest mountain in Oceania is Puncak Trikora also in New Guinea at 15,580’/4730m and is 100 miles east of Carstensz.

I summited Carstensz Pyramid on October 22, 2011. Carstensz was a maze of logistics challenges, difficult conditions and rewarding climbing; including the infamous Tyrolean traverse across a 80′ gap. I have a great video of me pulling myself upside down across the suspended cable. But the real challenge was just getting there. We arranged a helicopter to avoid the 6 day jungle trek but barely made it in and out.

Alzheimer’s Dedication: Dads with Alzheimer’s

I summited Carstensz on October 22, 2011. You can read about and see pictures from the climb here.

Antarctica: Mt. Vinson (16,067’/4897m) 

Vinson600 miles from the South Pole, Mount Vinson was first summited in 1966 by climbers led by Nicholas Clinch from the American Alpine Club and the National Science Foundation, it was the last of the 7 Summits to be conquered. It was named after US Senator and Antarctica supporter, Carl Vinson. It is in Ellsworth Mountains Range. Just getting there is an adventure involving a 4 hour, 5,000 mile plane trip on a Russian IIyushin 76 cargo plane from the tip of South America to the snow camp of Union Glacier Hills. Once there climbers are ferried via a Twin Otter to base camp. Climbs usually take place between December and February.

The climb is normally scheduled for about three weeks with the summit taking place around the middle of the time. However once there, weather can be the worst on the planet often stopping teams in their tracks for weeks. Similar to Denali, climbers carry all their personal gear plus a share of the group gear – no porters in Antarctica! The climb itself is a series of long snow slopes not requiring significant technical skills or gear however it is harsh with the weather and loads over 50 lbs split between a pack and a sled. Once you summit, if you summit, you might be stuck for more weeks waiting for the big IIyushin to return!

About 1200 people have summited Vinson since 1966 with no deaths. A popular option after a summit is to fly to the 89 degree and ski the final 70 miles to the South Pole.

The second highest mountain in Antarctica is Mount Tyree at 15,919’/4852m and is 7 miles north of Vinson. Only 7 climbers have made it the top of Tyree! It is significantly more difficult with it’s steep faces. One of the most famous climbs in mountaineering took place in January 1989 when the legendary American alpinist Terry ‘Mugs’ Stump, an American climbing legend, soloed the west face without a rope in a roundtrip time of 12 hours – an amazing feat that still stands out 20 years later.

I summited on December 9th. This was the first of my 7 Summits climbs. 600 miles from the South Pole, just getting there was an adventure involving a 4 hour, 20,000 mile plane trip on a Russian IIyushin 76 cargo plane from the tip of South America to the snow camp of Union Glacier. The view of endless ice and snow from Vinson’s summits was one of the most astounding scenes I have ever witnessed.

Alzheimer’s Dedication: Early Onset

I summited Vinson on December 9th, 2010. You can read about and see pictures from the climb here.

Australian Mainland: Kosciuszko (7,310’/2229m)

KosciuszkoA simple walk-up on the otherwise relatively flat Australian continent. But if you want to be very precise, there is a volcano that Australia has in her territory on Heard Island – Mawsons Peak, 9005’/2745m. It is an active volcano about 2500 miles off the western coast of Australia e.g. the middle of the Indian Ocean and the island has no ports or villages.

The second highest mountain on the Australian mainland is Mt. Townsend at 7,247’/2209m and is 2 miles north of Kosciuszko. It is somewhat more ‘craggy’ than Kosciuszko but is still a simple walk up. It is reported that the locals ask each climber to take a rock to the summit with the goal of surpassing it’s higher neighbor.

I summited Kosciuszko on October 27, 2011. It was a fun and easy walk with beautiful views of the Snowy Mountain Range. While a walk up, this final climb in my 7 Summits Climb for Alzheimer’s provided another opportunity send our message of hope, need and urgency to find a cure Alzheimer’s, improve early detection and support family caregivers.

Alzheimer’s Dedication: Hope, Need and Urgency

I summited Kosciuszko on October 27, 2011. You can read about and see pictures from the climb here.

Western Europe: Mont Blanc (15,771’/4807m)

Mont BlancMont Blanc is the highest mountain in western Europe at at 15,771 feet. It is on the boarder between between Italy and France and is called Monte Bianco in Italy. While living in nearby Geneva, Mont Blanc was visible on a clear day. I first climbed the Aiguille du Midi Route with a guide in July, 1995. It was steep, snowy and one of the longest days of my life.

It starts with an easy gondola ride up to the Agile du Midi – a spectacular lookout point for the Alps. It takes about an hour to get to the Refuge’ for an short overnight rest. This was an interesting way to start the climb since you are in the observation tower with hundreds of tourists. However you are dressed in Gortex, gloves and crampons with a pack on your back. You get very strange looks as you leave the warmth of the building through what can only be described as an ice tunnel. The tunnel leads to a very narrow ridge with steep drop-offs on both sides. The ridge, about two feet wide, drops steadily then makes a right turn towards the Valley Blanche – a beautifully wide valley that holds the approach to hundreds of snow, ice and rock climbs throughout the year.

I summited Mont Blanc 3 times in 1995-1997. You can read about my climbs here.

AARP created this video on my climbs in 2012:

7 Summits Comparison Chart

Carstensz Pyramid
Time in nearest large city
Port Moresby
Punta Arenas
Mineralniy Vody
Route commented on and date climbed
Kosciuszko Track from Thredbo
October 2011
North Face
October 2011
West Face, Branscomb Glacier
December 2010
North side,
West Summit Mikelchiran Glacier
August 2011
September 2011
West Buttress
July 2011
Polish Traverse
January 2011
Southeast Ridge
April 2011
The “original” 7th Summit by Dick Bass but too easy for Morrow/Messner thus Carstensz. Most technical of the 7 and just getting there is the challenge. The most remote of the 7 Summits – pristine and perfect with endless ice Climbing from the north is more a cultural experience than climbing. Harder than southside. The roof of Africa with a sense of urgency for the receding glaciers Some of the best views and worst weather of the 7 Often underestimated by the 70% who don’t summit the highest peak outside the Himalaya The top of the world and deserving of every accolade over the century
Approach to base Camp (BC)
drive to trailhead, ski lift to 5,000′ Jungle trek for 5 days or helicopter plane from Union Glacier long, rough 5 hour drive on 4WD roads 2 hours drive to trailhead plane from Talkeetna to Kahiltna Glacier Easy, 3 day trek to BC Easy, 7 day trek to BC in Khumbu
Overall Difficulty
Easy – A walk-up on dirt trails but can be a challenge in cold wintry weather with trail finding in whiteouts. Technical with rock climbing, altitude can be issue for some. Moderate – no “climbing” required other than headwall, heavy loads up and down high up requires excellent fitness Moderate – no “climbing” required. Carrying personal loads to High Camp requires good fitness Easy – mostly on well worn trails but altitude can be difficult Moderate – no “climbing” required other than headwall, heavy loads up and down high up requires excellent fitness Moderate – no “climbing” involved, altitude can bother some who go too fast. Very hard – altitude above 25000′ wears on you, 8 weeks away.
Technical Difficulty (ice or rock climbing, need for axes, harnesses, slings, protection, etc)
None. nothing special required Moderate – rock climbing, rappelling and a Tyrolean Traverse makes it interesting Easy. Harness, crampons, roped up for crevasse and fall safety. Pull sleds with gear. Easy. Harness, crampons, roped up for crevasse and fall safety None. nothing special required. Maybe microspikes if summit is snow covered. Simple. Harness, crampons, roped up for crevasse and fall safety. Pull sleds with gear. Headwall can challenge some. Easy, crampons in one short section (Canaleta) on summit push moderate due to altitude in yellow band, Hillary Step. Harness, axe, crampons, roped up for crevasse and fall safety
Altitude Considerations
not an issue for most people Must acclimatize properly and watch for AMS. Must acclimatize properly and watch for AMS. Must acclimatize properly and watch for AMS. High altitude gain so must acclimatize gradually with no rush by guides and watch for AMS. Must acclimatize gradually with rest days at 14K and 17K Watch for AMS. Serious above C3. Must acclimatize gradually and not rush. Watch for AMS, HAPE and HACE Extreme. Serious, especially above C2. Use supplemental Oxygen. Must acclimatized properly and watch for AMS, HAPE, HACE
Weather (all mountains can be cold, windy and constantly change!!)
+70F day, can be windy and cold in winter with whiteouts Hot, humid and rain in the jungle, cold on the summit push +60F day, -30F night. Can be extremely wet +70F day, 0F night on summit. we had light winds +60F day, 0F night. Can be very wet +40F day, -10F night. we had no snow and light winds. Can be brutally cold!! +50F day, 0F night but winds are the issue and can be beyond cold on summit night. +90F day, -30F night above 23K. Occasional very high winds, moderate to heavy snowfall
Base Camp altitude
4,528′ 14,000′ at Lakes Camp 7,300′ on Bascomb Glacier 8,200′ on Emanuil’s Glade 5905′ at Machame gate  7,200′ at Kahiltna Glacier 13,880 Campo Argentina 17,500′ on Khumbu Glacier
Camp 1 and average climb time from previous Camp
N/A 9,100′ – 4 hours 12,000′ – 4 hours 10,000′ at Machame Hut – 6 hours 7,800′ – 3 hours 16,075 – 3 hours 19,500′ – 4 hours via Icefall after acclimation
Camp 2 and average climb time from previous Camp
N/A N/A 13,200′ – 6 hours N/A 12,200′ at Shira Hut – 5 hours 11,200′ – 4 hours 17,500′ (Camp 1.5) – 4 hours 21,000′ – 3 hours
Camp 3 and average climb time from previous Camp
N/A N/A N/A N/A 13,000′ at Barranco Hut – 6 hours. Karanga Valley 13,000′ – 4 hours 14,200′ – 3 hours 19,500′ – 3 hours 23,500′ – 5 hours
Camp 4 and average climb time from previous Camp
N/A N/A N/A N/A 15,000′ at Barufu Hut – 4 hours 17,200′ – 6 hours N/A 26,300′ – 4 hours
Summit and average round trip climb time
7,310′ – 1 hours summit round trip. 8.6 miles 16,023′ – 12 hours round trip 16,067′ – 12 hours summit round trip 18,513′ – 12 hours summit round trip 19,340′ – 9 hours summit round trip 20,320′- 9 hours summit round trip 22,842 – 10 hours summit round trip 29,035 – 18 hours summit round trip
Special gear required or suggested
WInd jacket, good hiking shoes Full technical harness, carabineers, jumar full protection for extreme cold and winds protection for high winds and cold sturdy high top hiking boots plus excellent rain pants and jacket excellent fitting pack for heavy loads excellent wind protection Full down suit or jacket/pants
Special training required or suggested
Good fitness but not over the top Excellent aerobic conditioning (running, cycling). Excellent aerobic conditioning (running, cycling). Strong stomach & back muscles for loads. Good aerobic conditioning (running, cycling). Strong stomach & back muscles for loads. Aerobic training especially for those who have never climbed above 14,000′ Excellent aerobic conditioning (running, cycling). Strong stomach & back muscles for loads. Excellent aerobic conditioning (running, cycling). Outstanding aerobic conditioning (running, cycling). Strong stomach & back muscles for loads. Strong thigh and calf muscles for long days. Mental toughness
Low point of the mountain or climb
can be crowded in summer with over 100,000 people climbing it each year. The uncertainty of the logistics and the bribes required for the locals very long waits for plane to and from Union Glacier High Camp is very dirty with widespread waste cloudy, misty days that block views. Very dusty otherwise trudging up to Basin Camp at 14K with full loads and sleds. Few nice views … yet dirt, dust and wind the entire climb! Physical and mental pressure towards end of climb. Long time away. Icefall can be risky but awesome
Unique aspect of the mountain or climb
The summit view is fantastic overlooking the Snowy Mountain Range The rock climbing is excellent. Plus the interaction with the tribes is eye opening. Antarctica is one of the most amazing places on earth with pristine and prefect views of endless ice. It is Russia! More of a cultural experience than climbing but summit day was excellent with outstanding views Seeing the disappearing snows and glaciers from the summit. Also African culture incredible views of Alaska. Flight onto Kahiltna Glacier. True snow Camping with snow walls, trapped in tent for days! High altitude with snow and easy logistics. Argentinean culture is special A true, long, expedition, fixed ropes, Lhotse Face, South Col, Summit night. A lifetime experience
Estimated Annual Climbers, % success 10,000 annual @ 80%+ summits 500 annual @ 90%+ summits 300 annual @ 95%+ summits Best guess 5000+ from south with 50% success, 1000 north @ 40% 25,000 annual @ 66%+ summits 1,200 annual @ 50% summits 5000 annual @ 30% summits 600 annual @ 80% summits
Carstensz Pyramid

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One thought on “The 7 Summits – an Overview

  1. Very informative as always! I think you hit an extra zero for the length of the flight to Vinson. It should be 2,000 miles which is plenty long on the IIyushin, especially when the “nice” seats are full and you have to sit back with the luggage and supplies! Climb On.

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